No landscape harm in weighted planning balance

A developer has overcome objections of harm to a Special Landscape Area (SLA), Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a listed Church, protected trees and great crested newts to secure the approval of an inspector for 23 houses, including nine affordable homes, on a 1.3-hectare field on the edge of a Gloucestershire village.

The council could not demonstrate a five-year supply of housing, restrictive saved local plan policies were therefore out of date and an emerging plan carried only limited weight. The site abutted the village settlement boundary in the out of date plan but was not identified as a service village suitable for infill in the emerging plan. The inspector, however, noted that the site had been identified in the council’s Strategic Assessment of Land Availability as being suitable for 35 dwellings.

The inspector found that the cul-de-sac layout on a backland site would not harm a settlement pattern showing both ribbon and nucleated elements, or the street-scene, and supported the high quality vernacular design approach and low density which took account of consultation with local residents.

The site lay just outside the AONB and had no landscape features of significance but was within an SLA that saved policy sought to protect from development. The council witness accepted the site did not fulfil the policy criteria to justify such protection and had not been subject to robust landscape assessment as required by subsequent national advice. The inspector therefore accorded the policy limited weight due to its shortcomings and with regard to recent case law in Bloor Homes and Stroud judgements.

Finding only very slight harm to the setting of a listed building and that other matters were overcome by conditions, section 106 legal undertakings and agreements, the proposal was judged to be sustainable development in the final weighted balance and the appeal was allowed.

Inspector: Peter Rose; Inquiry

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